Exploring Oceans


Distribution of the world's oceans

Oceans and seas = 71% of surface of earth

5 main oceans -

1. Pacific Ocean

2. Indian Ocean

3. Atlantic Ocean

4. Southern Ocean

5. Arctic Ocean

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Structure of ocean basins

All oceans have similar structures

Structure - 

1. Continential Shelf - starts at the edge of the continents and gradually deepens

Average width 70km, slope angle of under 2 metres per kilometer.

2. Continential Shelf --> Continential Slope - slope angle increases. Not continous as canyons and gullies cut into it.

Slope angle of 70 metres per kilometer.

3. Continential Slope --> Continential Rise - wide but gently sloping zone.

4. Continential Rise --> Abyssal plain - deepest parts of the ocean

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Abyssal Plains

Abyssal plains = 50% of Earth's surface

> Whole mountain chains - called seamounts

Seamounts = 3000m above the abyssal plain

Guyots = 'peaks that are above the oceans surface'

Over time, erosion reduces there height below sea level.

Guyots can cause oceanic crust to subduct into the upper mantle due to the weight of it.

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Mid-Oceanic Ridges

Crossing the Abyssal Plain are long chains of mountains = showing the location of mid-oceanic ridges.

Transverse faults = 1600km long at right angles to mid-oceanic ridges

Rift valley = at the centre of the ridge

Magma rises up from the upper mantle in the rift valley = pushes the crust apart

Mid-Atlantic Ridge = east side and west side of abyssal plain moves part at 1cm/year =

Process = sea floor spreading

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Sea-floor spreading and paleomagnetism

1. Magma rises and cools - magnetic orientation of the poles is 'locked' in the iron particles of the new rock.

The polarity of the Earth's magnetic field flips = magnetic north becomes magnetic south

Flipping of the Earth's magnetic field = every 200,000 to 250,000 years

Evidence for flipping of the magnetic field - magnetic stripes either side of the ridges.

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Paleomagnetism and sea-floor spreading = evidence for theory of plate tectonics.

> Alfred Wegener, 1900s

> Increase in seismicity and paleomagnetism data, 1950s

= Produced radial theory of plate tectonics

Ocean margins have subduction zones =

Plates are converging - the one with the lowest density is forced into the mantle = results in a 'trench'

Deepest places in the abyssal plains = 7km to 11km

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Affect of Salinity on the Ocean

Salinity = the concentration of sodium chloride (salt) in the ocean.

Salinity = gram of salt per 1000g of water.

Fresh water salinity = 0.05 ppt (parts per thousand) .v.s. sea water = 35 ppt

Salinity can vary with depth =

'Halocline - rapid change in salinity close to the surface'

Salinity influences water density --> density affects water movement vertically

EG. flow of ocean currents from tropics to poles moving heat will effect global climate.

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Affect of temperature on the ocean

Oceans absorb, store, transfer and release heat = so, important in controlling climate and weather on global and local scales.

Water has a high specific heat capacity = can retain its heat.

Compared to land which heats up and cools quickly.

Thermocline = water temperature decreases rapidly as depth increases close to the surface.

The depth of warm surface layer varies with season and location.

Below 1km = water temperature hardly changes.

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Warm and cold ocean currents

Warm water at the surface, cold water at depth.

> There is movement from low --> middle --> high latitudes

Polar regions - water temperature cools and more saline --> water becomes denser.

1. Water sinks and disperses

2. Deep current flows transport water back to equatorial regions where it rises again

The flow of water is called: 'hermohaline circulation' or 'ocean conveyor belt'

Gyres - surface circulation generated by wind.

EG. South and North ocean gyres in Atlantic and Pacific Oceans.

       Souther gyre in Indian Ocean

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Circulation in the North Atlantic

1. Warm saline water flows from coast of Florida TO the northeast = this is the 'Gulf Stream' 

2. Gulf stream moves heat energy to mid-latitudes = impacts weather and climate in Europe

North-Atlantic Drift moves all the way to the Norwegian Coast and to the Arctic.

Water that sinks in the Arctic = takes 150-250 years to re-surface at the equator.

3. The water cools --> increases in density --> sinks.

4. Deep ocean currents form.

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Circulation of the North Atlantic

Far northwest of Atlantic = Cold Labrador Currents flow southwards from the Arctic.

Ladrador current flows = causes cold winters in Canada

North branch of the gulf stream flows along west coast of Greenland = causes coast to be ice-free.

North Atlantic = major inflow from Mediterranean as it passes through straits of Gibraltar INTO Atlantic at 1000km

> Warm water = 13'c

> Saline water = 37.c ppt

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Circulation of the North Atlantic

Climate change will affect North Atlantic circulation.

1. Melting of ice from polar ice caps due to climate change.

2. Large release of fresh water into the Arctic Ocean.

3. Reduction in salinity.

4. Reducing in water density.

5. Preventing sinking of water in North Atlantic

6. Disrupt thermohaline circulation.

7. Change climate and weather (social impacts for Europe - northwest Europe will cool)

(Salinity of fresh water: 0.05ppt .v.s. salt water: 35ppt)

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Changes in light levels

Light energy from the sun is not evenly distributed across the ocean.

Light is most intense in eqatorial regions - increasing distance from equator equal light energy reduced (spread over a greater surface area)

Light can penerates water - with increasing depths, light reduces.

'Photic zone - layer of water where there is enough light for photosynthesis to occur'

Below the photic zone - organises use 'bioluminescence'

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Changes in ocea temperatures

Ocean temperatures = due to transfer of energy from sunlight to water molcules.

So: global sea surface temperatures --> related to variations in sunlight

eg: increasing depth = less light = lower temperatures

Occasionally, strong winds can move surface water = allowing deep cold water to rise to the surface

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Changes in nutrient levels

Dissolved nutriens (from weathered rocks) move into rivers --> into oceans

1. Plankton use nutrients

2. Nutrients pass through ecosystems = consumers feed on producers (plankton)

Nutrients level = low at the surface

Very low away from continents where nutrients are running off land

Warm, equatoral waters = low in nutrients

1. Airborne nutrients used up quicky - little wind deposition

2. Cold water (containing nutrients from sea floor) arent brough to the surface as cold water is denser so cannot rise.

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Changes in nutrient levels

Nutrient levels are HIGH - in locations where upwelling from thermocline

EG: locations like: Antartica have strong upward movement of deep water

1. Nutrients are brought to the surface due to upwelling

2. Nutrients support high biodiversity

Abyssal plains have little nutrients and light - still support life

Sun's energy is transferred to the abyssal plains by 'marine snow'

'Marine snow' - when dead organisms from the surface sink to the bottom. Deep water organisms feed on this --> creation of deep water foodchains and ecosystems.

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Hydrothermal vents

Discovery of hydrothermal vents, 1970s at mid-oceanic ridges

Hydrothermal vents =

> High temperatures (380'c)

> Silica rich

> Hydrogen, sulphur and methane gases produced.

These conditions are suitable to sustain bacteria. (Bacteria are not dependent on sun energy - they can use chemical enery in the hot water)

Last 10 years, discovery of 'cold seeps' = they occur in shallow waters but have similar communities to hydrothermal events

Their communities use chemical energy rather than solar energy 

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Biodiveristy in the oceans

80% of all life is found in the oceans

250,000 different marine species - more species still to discover.

Marine ecosystems -

1. Producers - convert sunlight to chemical energy (Phytoplankton)

Food webs form around producers - life in the ocean varies with latitude and depth

Net Primary Productivity = how much sunlight is absorbed - gram of co2/per area/per year

Annual NPP = 100 billion tonnes/year = ocean key part of carbon cycle

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Biodiversity in oceans

Highest NPP = occurs where greatest supply of dissolved nutrients

Percentage of NPP in coastal regions is low = due to areas and depth of water productivity is high.

1. Dissolved nutrients move into coastal zones through rivers - estuaries = high NPP

Coastal shelves maintain high NPP by run-off of nutrients

The deep ocean is relatively unproductive due to its volume of water

EG: Sub-tropical gyres = little nutrients supply = 'biological deserts'

In temperate coastal areas = kelp forests have biodiversity comparable to a tropical rainforst

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Deep water ecosystems - Antarctic

'Pelagic - ecosystems away from coastal zones in deep waters

Marine NPP by region

Coastal region - estimated NPP: 250 g/cm2/year

Deep ocean regions - estimated NPP: 130 g/cm2/year

Antarctic marine ecosystem - deep-water ecosystem

> Low temperatues - BUT one of the most productive ocean region.

> Cold water = more oxygen dissolved (advantage for marine life)

> Phytoplankton productivity HIGH during the summer months (November to March)

> November TO March = 12 hours sunlight

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Deep water ecosystems - Antarctic

Surface waters around Antarctic are nutrient rich:

1. Sea ice forms at the start of winter - some salt is released.

2. Increases the salinity of the water - water becomes more dense.

3. Surface water temperature is 0'c - saline water has a lower freezing point than freshwater.

4. Cold, saline water sinks.

5.Less salty (less dense) water rises - upwelling of nutrients.

6. Phytoplankton absorb the nutrients.

7. Ecosystem forms around phytoplankton (producer)

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Affect of physical environment of ecosystem

Physical envrionment = seasonal changes in the extent of sea ice.

February = 3 million km2 of sea ice

September = 20 million km2 of sea ice

Marine ecosystems in the Antarctic are simple and biodiversity is LOW

EG: phytoplankton --> krill --> whales

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Salt marsh ecosystems - inter-tidal ecosystem

Salt marshes = coastal wetlands when the ocean meets the land.

Salt marshes are common in mid to high latitudes

Zones between low and high tide = 'dynamic' = change in the volume of water.

Species that live in inter-tidal zone are adapted to rapid and freqeunt changes in environmental conditions.

Accumulation of sediment --> salt marsh fromation. Weathered and eroded material from land is carried to the coastal zone by rivers.

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Salt marsh ecosystems - inter-tidal ecosystem

Salt marshes are highly productive ecosystems.

NUTRIENTS in inter-tidal ecosystems:

1. Nutrients run-off the land into rivers which transport the nutrients to the coastal zones.

2. Regular tidal movements - mix the water and nutrients

This ensures a nutrient supply is always avaliable

LIGHT in inter-tidal ecosystems:

1. Light levels vary seasonally - limiting factor only in winter periods

2. In the continential shelf - easily acess to light (in photic zone)

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Salt marsh ecosystems - inter-tidal ecosystem

TEMPERATURE in inter-tidal ecosystems:

1. Seasonal variations in temperature - colder in winter months

2. Warmer surface water - little upwelling as colder water will not move up because it is denser.

BIODIVERSITY in inter-tidal ecosystems:

> Rhythm of tide = allows clear zones to develop.

Difference in the environmental conditions between zones - low tide covered in salt water most of the time .v.s. climax community where only very high tides reach.

Creates differences in abioitic factors = salinity and light.

'Zonation = (creates the different zones) vegetation changes due to 'plant succession' = this leads to biodiversity of other animals.

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Value for biological resources

'Natural capital - a good that is not manufactured that has value to humans'

Examples of natural capital 

1. Phytoplankton - responsible for photosynthesis

2. Fish 

Natural capital --> results in natural income (harvest of krill)

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Ecosystems as a service

Examples of 'Ecosystem Services':

1. Provisioning services - direct products of ecosystems (food)

2. Regulating services - advantages from natural regulation of substances (co2)

3. Cultural services - non-material benefits (swimming in the sea)

4. Supporting services - ecosystems which provide support to other services (nutrient cycles)

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Opinions surround ecosystem services

If an ecosystem service can't be used = loss or cost to human caused

Varying opinion on ecosystems services due to different cultures


1. In the Arctic, whale hunting is apart of inuit culture.


2. See as unacceptable practice in the AC - campaigns against hunting traditions.

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Case study: Krill

Background information 

> Habitat - upper parts of the water column

> Occur in swarms - biggest swarm recorded (2 million tonnes up to 400km2)

> Make up most of the Antarctic food chains and webs

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Case study: Krill

Human impacts on Krill

> Commerical harvesting began in 1970s

> Significant industry in southern ocean - used in human products

> Five countries harvesting Krill - Chile, China, South Korea, Norway, Ukraine

> Annual catch = norway 50%, China 18%, South Korea 18%

> 1970s and 1980s = concerns that exploitation would lead to collapse in Krill stocks (threshold for sustainable fishing is exceeded) 

> Krill stocks declined 80% since 1970s 

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Case study: Krill


1. Comission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR) set up in 1982

2. 25 members starts agreed ot the commission 

3. Monitoring and regulating commerical interst in Krill

Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resource uses a holisitc approach  to look at the Krill and dependent ecosystems 

Decline of Krill linked to warming sea = likely to increase in future.

Krill feed on algae that forms under sea ice --> little sea ice --> little algae that can support Krill populations

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Case study: Krill


1. Commission for the Conversation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR) sets a total allowable catch (TAC) 

TAC = aim to allow enough Krill to survive for populations and predators 

Current TAC = 620,000 tonnes/year 

This causes issues because it is significantly lower than the catch limit = 5.6 million tonnes/year.

CONFLICTS of management 

> If the TAC was increased it would need to be spread out across the whole region to avoid over-fishing 

> This would impact the fishing industry

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Case study: Krill

STAKEHOLDERS in Krill populations

> Krill fisherman

> Environmentalists

> Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR) members.

ATTITUDES of stakeholders

> CCAMLR - monitor illegal fishing, balancing fishing, predict impacts of climate change

> Krill fishermen - stick to TACs

> Environmentalist - balancing and making fishing sustainable

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Case study: Krill


> Fishermen - lower economic status but they provide krill to the population - influence of fishermen is huge.

> Environmentalist - dependent on the size of the coroporation and its approach to the situation.

> CCAMLR - hugh influence on Krill because they set a TAC.

POLITICAL STATUS of stakeholders

> Fishermen - little political influence can only influence economically

> Environmentalist - can put protests forward

> CCAMLR - huge poltical influence because it brings countries together to organise a ban.

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Case study: Krill


> Decline of Krill populations - 80% since 1970s

> Collapse of fishing stocks

> If the TAC was met - populations would rise again


> Over-fishing

> Warming seas - melting ice berms - reducing food supply of algae

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Case study: Krill

THRESHOLDS to initiate management

Large scale expolitation --> collapse of Krill stocks (threshold for sustainable fishing is exceeded)

Concerns in 1980s Krill stocks would fllow a 'Boom and Bust' pattern - due to large scale exploitation

Krill catch - evidence of boom and bust

1980 - 530,000 tonnes

1985 - 120,000 tonnes

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Use of ocean energy and mineral resources

Oil expoitation

> Oil drilling = began 1900

> First oil rig = 1930s

Demand is growing --> technology has advanced --> industry into deeper and hostile waters

Oil and Gas

> Non-renewable resources (finite)

> Growing demand since 1950s = increase in exploitation (on the edge of continential shelf)

> Advance in technology = made drilling possible in deeper locations

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Use of ocean energy and mineral resources

Current commerical rigs - drill to 2000m

Future commerical rigs - drill to 3500m

Oil and Gas

> Volatile - sensitive to changing demands

Variations in margins - difference between cost of production and market price.

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Use of ocean energy and mineral resources

POSITIVE impacts of oil and gas exploitation

1. Employment - for people working on oil rigs

2. Wealth creation - oil and gas generate profit

3. Products (can be used for lots of products) - promotes a higher standard of living

4. Oil rigs can create biodiversity - can create localised reefs for some organisms

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Use of ocean energy and mineral resources

NEGATIVE impacts of oil and gas exploitation

1. Local communitities - become dependent on 1 industry

2. Ecosystem disturbance - noise pollution

3. Visual impact - not natural

4. Oil spills - pollution

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Gulf of Mexico

Mini case study - use and management of ocean energy resources

Undersea geology is rich in hydrocarbons

> 70 years of drilling - upgrades in technology allow deep water exploration

> 75% of US's Gulf oil production = wells at depth of 300m

> Recent oil discoveries = 1500m

> 40,000km2 of pipeline across sea floor

> 45% US oil processing occurs along coast

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Gulf of Mexico

Energy industry

Rise in energy industries economic fortunes + fall in energy prices


Positive socio-economic impact

Due to multipler effect --> jobs are created --> stimulates wealth, employment and services

Idea of 'success breeding success'

> 240,000 jobs created by US Gulf oil industry

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Renewable ocean resources

> Fossil fuels = 75-80% of global energy consumptions

New energy supplies will be needed:

1. demand for energy will increase with rising standards of living

2. burning of fossil fuels linked to climate change

Possible renewable resources

> Tidal energy

> Wave energy

These are flow resources = naturallty generation by the Sun and moon

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Renewable ocean resources: tidal energy

Tidal energy = energy from the rise and fall of the tide

Tidel power potential = dependent on physical geography (shape of coastline + tidal range)

Advantages of using tidal energy

1. Tides are regular and reliable

2. Two high and low tides every 24 hours

Disadvtanges of using tidal energy

1. Only few places where electricity demand is high enough - to jusify huge development costs

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Renewable ocean resources: tidal energy

Method of collecting tidal energy

Use of barrage - dam like structure across the coast

As tide rises - gates open

At high tide - gates close creating a tidal lagoon

As tide falls - stored water is released through barrage turbines

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Renewable ocean resources: tidal energy

Shiwa Lake Scheme

> South Korea

> World's largest tidal power station

> 254 MW (maximum output)

> Opened in 2011

Use incoming tide only

When sea wall was build (previous defence) - water quality declined

Water is released at low tides to flush out pollution

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Renewable ocean resources: tidal energy

Tidal Lagoon Swansea Bay - mini case study

> 320 MW tidal power station planned

> 9.5 km long breakwater

> Area of 11.5km2

> 16 tubines

> Using incoming and outgoing tides

> Will power 155,000 homes

> £1 billion

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Tidal Lagoon Swansea Bay

Advantages of tidal energy station created

>Renewable energy resource

> 16 hours of electricity every 24 hours

> Low CO2 emissions + lifetime carbon footprint small

> 120 years working life

> Using already exsiting technology

> Will generate employment

> Create recreation and tourism opportunities

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Tidal Lagoon Swansea Bay

Impact of tidal lagoon

> Sediment movements in the Bay

> Reduced water quality - due to limited sediment movement

> Marine ecosystem disturbance - noise, habitats, vibrations

> Inshore fisheries

> Cornwall environment (conservation zone) - stones for breakwater will be quarried

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Ocean renewable resources: wave energy

Wave energy = potential energy is huge (more than tidal energy)

Obstacle to development

> For it to be efficient = high wave energy is required

> In place where wave energy is high enough = many devices can't survive the rough seas

> Making them more robust (= increasing size and weight)

> Reduced efficiency of energy conversion

> Increasing energy cost

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Wave energy machinery

Technology 1 = Waveroller

> Series of large flaps sticking up vertically from the sea bed

> Moves back and forth = power generated is provided to an electrical generator

Technology 2 = Pelamis

> Elongated steel tube

> As the wave passes = the structure rises and falls = turn generators to produce electricity

Technology 3 = CETO Buoys

> Buoys float the surface moving up and down

> Create hydrostatic pressure = sent to an onshore generator

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Sea-floor mining

'Ferrous' deposits = contains iron

'Non-ferrous' deposits = doesn't contain iron

> 300m coast of South Africa diamonds are found

> 40 years ago = interst in manganese nodules in Pacific

Increase in prices of minerals (silver, gold) havere-ignited commerical interst in sea-floor mining

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Sea-bed mining and minerals

Growth in the use of REE (Rare Earth Elements)

elements used in technology

Politcal = used in technology for military hardware

The use of REEs are likelty to influence decisions about permission to mine in EEZs (Exclusive Economic Zones)

Mining is concentrates around mid-oceanic ridges and hydrothermal vents

Lack of knowledge = difficult to access potential damage to ecosystems

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Sea-bed mining and minerals

WHY is sea-bed mining advantageous

Oceanic minerals are found in higher concentrations than land-based minerals

EG: copper ore

Land = 4% metal content

Oceanic = 40% metal content

SO, less matieral needs to be mined to obtain the same quanity of mineral

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Sea-bed mining and minerals

WHY is sea-bed mining a concern

> Little knowledge of locations for mineral extraction

> How to dispose of mining waste = tailings

Tailings = cloudy/turbid water

This sediment in the water can settle on sea floor --> can smother sea-bed ecosystems

As the demand for minerals increases = more pressure will be placed on sea-bed mining

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Oceans as a 'global commons'

'Tragedy of the Commons', Garrett Hardin

Description = the interest of every (the common good) .vs. self-interest

'The tragedy of the commons - describes a situation in a shared-resource system where individual users acting independently according to their own self-interest behave contrary to the common good of all users by depleting or spoiling that resource through their collective action.'

'Global commons' - a resource that belongs to everyone (sea/atmosphere)

People exploit the resource without considering the impact.

Advantage to the individual is greater, becasue the cost is shared amongst many

Short term = individuals take all they can otherwise someone else will

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Ocean management zones - UNCLOS

Four management zones created by UNCLOS

1. Territorial waters - country has complete control over all activities

2. Contiguous zone - country has sovereignity and legal rights

3. Exclusive Economic Zones (EEZs) - country has rights to sea-bed resources. All countries have right to sail and fly in this zone,

4. High seas - No country has soverignity or legal right. International agreements apply.

UNCLOS - United Nations Convention on Laws of the Sea = interntional agreement that defines zones

Coastal zones can be disputed by countries - boundaries are disputed as countries try to maximise their rights

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Management by UNCLOS

Management issues of UNCLOS

Issues not management

> Ocean acidification

> Bio-prospecting - 'search for species which medicinal drugs and other commercially valuable compounds can be obtained'

> Fishing

> Lack of agreement in establishing marine reserves in high seas

> Absence in regulating under-water noise and its impact on marine life

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Management by UNCLOS

UNCLOS established International Seabed Authority

International Seabed Authority - manage the exploitationod sed-bed resources

The International Seabed Authority are increasing in importance because of increasing tensions of sea-bed mineral mining

Hydrothermal vents had not been discovered whe UNCLOS was created - so they are not included.

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International Whaling Commission (IWC)

International Whaling Commission - manage whale species

> 88 member countries

> 1986 - banned commerical whaling

> Limiting catchs for communities where it is vital to their culture and economy

> Food sources - regulating the Krill stocks to conserve whales

Link to krill case study

Krill are main producer in antarctic ecosystems - they are the start of the food chain

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Marine reserves

Marine reserves are the marine version of national parks

3% of world's oceans are marine reserves

Marine reserves:

1. unique biological, geological, historical and cultural features

2. increasing the oceans resislience to impacts of climate change - water warming + acidification

2010 - International Convention on Biological Diversity = would establish 10% as Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) by 2020

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Marine reserves in the UK

UK = 207 Marine Protected Areas

'No Take Zones' - Bristol Channel = no human disturbance can occur

Protect underwater reefs - Western Isles of Scotland

UK has 14 oversees territories (previous colonies)

Area = 6.8 million km2

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The Chagos Marine Reserve

Chagos Archipelgo

'Archipelgo' - group of islands

> Indian Ocean

> 1 of 14 UK oversees territories

> 2010 - designated a compete 'No Take Zone'

> Marine reserve = 640,000km2

Features in chagos archipelgo = corals, seamount, ocean trenches, abyssal plains

Comparable marine biodiversity to the Great Barrier Reef, Australia

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The Chagos Marine Reserve

All extractive activities are banned - fishing + ocean bed mining

Chagos reefs - damaged by the effects of global warming (coral bleaching events)

As the human impact is SMALL, the corals haver recovered STRONGLY

Some of the cleanest water in the world

Protection maintains biodiversity

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Variety of pollutants

'Pollution' - when human activity adds a substance to the environment that affects organisms adversly

'Point source pollution' - release of pollutants from a signle identifiable location (leaking pipeline)

'Non-point source pollution' - pollutants are released from several areas

Original beliefs - the ocean would dilute the pollutants to make them harmless

Now - some pollutants are so toxic they seriously damage marine ecosystems and food chains

Run-off transports pollutants into oceans/ precipitation from the atmosphere

Not just chemical but also noise

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Pollution - combustion of fossil fuels

Combusion releases several pollutants

Combustion of fossil fuels in SHIPPING

Long ocean routes --> large use of fossil fuels --> large total emission by shipping

this is significant at a global scale

> 90,000-100,000 cargo vessels

> Operate 24 hours on 280 days a year (average)

> Use lots of low grade oil = bunker fuel

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Pollutants - combustion of fossil fuels

Large cargo vessels = 5000 tonnes sulphur a year

Sea transport = 9% annual sulphur dioxide emissions

                         15-30% annual nitrogen dioxide

Shipping = 3.5 - 4% of all greenhouse gas emissions from

Most release is in the northern hemisphere around busy shipping routes

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Pollutant - combustion of fossil fuels

1. Growth in the use of shipping

2. Growth in the size and number of ships

Growth in number and size of cruise ships = serious localised issues of air pollution in cruise destinations

Increasing the concentration of fumes in coastal inlets

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Pollution - combustion of fossil fuels

Reduce impact of air pollution from shipping

> Increase fuel effiency = saves cost and reduces emissions

> Using low sulphur fuel

> Reducing ship speeds = 'Slow steaming' (cuts speeds from 27 knots to <20 knots)

> Better ship design = improve fuel efficiency

> Greater use of wind power

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Pollution - domestic and industrial sources

Chemicals dissolve into water systems - rivers --> into the sea

Chemicals in the atmosphere - transferred to oceans by percipitation 

Coastal communities - use rivers or the sea to remove raw sewage and industrial waste 

ACs - little untreated pollutants are discharged into the sea

EDCs - improvements are being made (but environmental progress not top priority)

LIDCs - no consideration for the environment or human health 

Some of the pollutant put into water sources in LIDCs are highly toxic 

> Heavy metals - mercury 

> Organic waste - nitrates, pesticides 

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Pollution - domestic and industrial sources

Some of the pollutants can effect water sources - algae bloom

Algae bloom = eutrophication 

Caused from chemicals in fertilisers (nitrates and phosphates)

Lead to a reduction in the oxygen content of the water 

Prevents aerobically respiring organisms from surviving 

Organisms die 

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Pollution - radioactive waste

Nuclear industry increases after Second World War 

Production of nuclear waste - thoughout it would dispear throughout the large volume of water 

1946-1993 = 13 countries disposed of radioactive waste in the oceans 

> Reactor vessels - with nuclear fuel 

> Tens of thousands of steel dums 

> 8 nuclear submarines 

1 of the 8 submarines is on the Arctic sea floor (issues due to high marine life) = nuclear reactor with uranium fuel remains on board in protective shield (overtime will corrode and will release high-level radioactive material 

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Pollution - radioactive waste

Fukushima nuclear power plant meltdown 

Radioactive material released due to 2011 tsunami 

Radiation accumulates in the food chain (bioaccumulation) (environmental impact)

> Strict ban on catching and consumption of fish in the area surrounding Fukushimna power plant  (economic impact)

Air-borne radiation - can travel to other areas (coast of northwest USA) - generally little threat to Pacific. Serious impacts on a local scale not global

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Case study: Deepwater Horzion Oil Spill

Background information 

> April 2010

> 40 miles off Louisana coast

> 1500m water depth 

> 11 died, 17 injuried

> 87 days oil spilled 

> 4.9 million barrels spilled

> 180,000 km2 of the Gulf was affected

> 1,600 km shoreline was polluted

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Case study: Deepwater Horzion Oil Spill

Impact on marine ecosystem and physical environment

> 1,600 km coastline polluted 

> 180,000 km2 of the gulf was affected 

Mainly short term impacts 

> High mortality rate of organisms - birds, fish

Long term recovery 

> Some species show NO long-lasting effects

>Oil does still wash up in some places 

> Oil deposits on the sea bed - cover coral 

> Salt marshed = oil accumulated in mud = oil not broken down in anaerobic conditions

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Case study: Deepwater Horzion Oil Spill

Economic impacts - on human activities

> Gulf fishing industry is one of the most productive in the world 

> Important for the regional economy and employment 

Short term impact - fishing stopped --> loss of income for fishermen 

>Tourism industry affected - less people wanted to come 

> Media images of oil-covered beaches and wildlife 

> Causing economic and social hardships 

> Loss of tourism --> loss of income --> unemployment --> downward spiral of decline 

Rate at which the ecosystem recovered was big. 5 years after the spillage Gulf fish and oyster industries can sell + beaches are open

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Case study: Deepwater Horzion Oil Spill

Management of the spill and its impacts

Closing of the well: 'top kill' = heavy and dense muf and concrete poured into the well

Strategies to deal with escaped oil:

1. Skimming surface oil = booms towed by small boats collecting oil

2. Burning surface oil = oil collected by fire-proof boom then burnt 

3. Dispersants = chemicals to prevent oil slicks. 1.84 million gallons. Evapouration and degradation

4. Artificial barrier islands = constructed off shore to prevent oil from getting to beaches (soon washed away from strong current in gulf)

5. Beach cleaning = oil that mixed with sand on beaches was taken and 'washed'. Sand was returned oil taken for processing

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Case study: Deepwater Horzion Oil Spill

What happened to the oil that wasn't collected

> The crude oil produced in the disaster: light crude oil

Light crude oil - dissolves more readily in water than heavy crude oil 

1. Some oil came to the surface (could be extracted)

2. Some oil was trapped in ocean layers at 1000m 

3. Some sank to ocean floor 

Gulf is not a clean ocean = 2,000,000 gallons leak naturally per day 

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Pollution spread by ocean currents

Marine debris = global ocean pollution problem 

Marine debris = plastics, rubber, etc 

Ways marine debris enters oceans:

> Rivers and beaches

> Dumping off the sides of ships 

Impact of marine debris 

> Marine organisms can become entangled in fishing nets 

> Plastics do not biodegrade - but break down into smaller plastics (microplastics)

Microplastics = produced by photodegredation = action of sunlight 

Plastics start as nurdles = found in every ocean system = issues of bioaccumulation

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Case study: Great Pacific Garbage Patch

Great Pacific Garbage Patch = accumulate of plastic in North Pacific Ocean Gyre

Background information 

'Ocean gyre' = circular currents formed by wind patterns and rotation of the earth

Once debris is at the centre of the gyre it will stay there

> The plastic is at the surface and several meters below 

Areas where the concentration is made of large derbis

Much of the debris is actually microplastics 

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Case study: Great Pacific Garbage Patch

Causes of accumulation

The Great Pacific Garage Patch is not a continous mass of debris stretching across the Pacific = has two principle areas of accumulation 

1. Western Pacific Garage Patch

2. Eastern Pacific Garbage Patch 

The gyre causes the debris to stay in this system once it is here

It will not move out once it is in 

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Case study: Great Pacific Garbage Patch

Impact on the marine ecosystem

> Large pieces of plastics can become trapped aorund animals 

> Smaller plastics can be ingested = lead to bioaccumulation (potential effect for humans)

> Chemicals can be contained in the plastics = poison animals that ingest them 

Pacific not the only ocean that is polluted 

Plastics are long-lived at do not break down.

Increased demand for plastics in industry 

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Acidification: impact of climate change

Background information

The ocean is a significant carbon sink

30% of anthropogenic carbon dioxide produced over 250 years has been absorbed by the oceans 

Anthropogenic carbon dioxide = proportion of co2 in atmophere at is produced directly by humans

Without this uptake by oceans - most likely we would have already gone past tipping point = causing increase in temperatures and sea level rise 

Increase in co2 = changes the oceans pH 

Ocean acidification fallen from 8.2 --> 8.1 

pH scale is logarithmic = so this is a 30% increase 

Forecast for 2100 = ocean ph 7.2-7.1

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Acidification: impact of climate change

Impact of acidification on marine ecosystems 

Crustaceans = more acidic oceans = less able to accumulate calcium carbonate for there shells

More susceptiable to predation --> less likely to reach maturity --> secondary consumers lose there food source 

Whole ecosystem at risk from breakdown in trophic levels (if the organisms at the base collapse - entire system at risk)

= 1. loss of biodiversity in oceans  

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Acidification: impact of climate change

Impact of acidification on marine ecosystems 

Disturbe the balance and equilibrium of marine ecosystems 

some predators may thrive in warmer + acidic conditions (jellyfish)

increase predation in oceans 

smaller species will die out

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Acidification: impact of climate change

Impact on people of depleting fish stocks due to acidification

1. Change in marine ecosystems = change marine harvests (provisioning ecosystem service)

2. Early life stages of fish are vulnerable to acidic sea water (200 million tonnes of seafood annually produced from aquaculture - like fishfarms) 

This issue of less fish harvest is significant for EDCs and LIDCs (The Gambia)

> In these countries, fish makes up 50% of their protein in diet 

> ACs gain provisioning services from marine harvests

> By 2050 - increased population and acidification = stress on fishing in tropics 

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Warming oceans threat to coral reefs

Impact of acidification on marine ecosystems

Coral support other marine organisms - algea 

Corals require specific environmental conditions 

> Temperature: 26'c

> Salinity: 30,000-32,000 ppm

> Water depth: 25m depth of less 

> Light: light needed for photosynthesis 

> Clear water

> Wave action: some wave action to be well oxygenated 

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Warming oceans threat to coral reefs

Impact of acidification on marine ecosystems 

Temperature is significant due to the symbiosis of the algae and the coral

1. Algae releases nutrients for the coral to feed on 

2. Coral provides algae with shelter

If temperature exceeds desired. The algae is released. Coral bleeching occurs 

Coral bleaching since 1980s = grown in frequency, intensity and geographical extent 

In eastern pacific = 80% of coral is bleached 

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The Great Barrier Reef: coral bleaching

Impact of acidification on marine ecosystems 

High biodiversity = 25% of all marine life live on coral reefs (1500 fish species, 350 corals, 6/7 turtle species in the world)

Efficient recycling of energy = nuritents used by reef organisms 

Coral maintain an ecosystem because they are a food source to mainly primary consumers which sustain secondary consumers 

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The Great Barrier Reef: coral bleaching

Threats to the biodiversity of coral reefs from CLIMATE CHANGE 

1. Increased sea water temperatures = coral bleaching 

2. Sea level rise = increasing water depth = reducing light levels 

3. Increases wave energy = physically damage corals

4. Ocean acidification = reduce ability to build calcium carbonate structures

Reduces the corals ability to survive --> reducing niches 

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The Great Barrier Reef: coral bleaching

Threats to local communities (from distruption of coral ecosystems)

Direct and indirect impacts 

1. Reduced provisioning, regulating, cultural and supporting ecosystem services

2. Act as a barrier for high energy waves - loss of beaches will be greater

Global economic value of coral shoreline protection = US$10 billion annually 

3. Act as nursery for fish species - fishing can occur (useful in EDCs and LIDCs due to malnurishment) 

Important because small communities will be vulnerable to small changes --> little resilience due to lack of resources

4. Fishing - employment and income (multipler effect)

5. Recreational activities - tourism

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Recent sea level change

In past 2 million years --> sea level risen 120m 

Changes in sea level =

1. Eustatic changes = changes in the volume of ocean (global scale) - melting ice caps

2. Isostatic changes = changes in the height of the land (localised) - earthquakes

Sea level rise = studied by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) 

Have decided that over recent years - a eustatic rise in sea level is occuring at an accelerated rate 

Average rise of 3 mm per year

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Recent sea level change

Causes of sea level rise

1. Thermal expansion of water:

global warming --> increasing temps --> sea water density decreases --> increase in water volume  in ocean basin

2. Melting of glaciers and ice caps: 

global warming --> increasing temps --> ice caps melt --> meltwater increases --> sea level rises

3. Melting of Greenland and Antarctia ice sheets:

global warming --> increasing temps --> ice sheets melt --> meltwater increases --> sea level rises

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Case study: The Maldives

Background information

> Group of small coral atolls

> in Indian Ocean 

> Low-lying islands 

> Popular tourist destination 

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Case study: The Maldives

Threats to island communities 

> Highest point 2.4m above sea level = will be affected 

> total population of 400,000 = large population for the density of island (total land area 300km2)

> Strong population growth (issues of resources)

> Lots of emigrants - reducing avalibility of jobs 

> Little fresh water = 0.01 cubic km/year out of 0.03 cubic km/year avalible 

> 30% of economy is based on tourism = tourism falls with sea level rise = rising unemployment +worsen by emigration

> Unemployment rate = 28%

> Long term threats from acidification - loss of coral, biodiveristy, fish stocks 

> Sea water will containminate crops

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Case study: The Maldives

Impact on island communities

Short term impacts:

Social: little income, loss of housing, little opportunities, loss of culture

Economic: high unemploymen, little opportunities, loss of tourism

Long term impacts:

Social: loss of food, loss of land, loss of communities

Economic: loss of industry, loss of land, economic decline, continued loss of tourism

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Case study: The Maldives

Adaptations of governments and communities (short and long term)

Short term

Goverment: 50 more tourist resorts to be opened by 2018

Communities: maintain the attraction of tourism (economically critical)

Long term

Government: purchase land elsewhere so the population could relocate + geoengineering projects

Communities: fight to maintain way or life, culture, employment

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Climate change effects oceans

Climate change has the most impact on high latitude oceans - Arctic and Southern Oceans (Antarctia)

Sea water freezes at -2'c not 0 due to its salt content

> At high latitudes, annual heat budget = net deficit (more heat leaves than is input) = due to angle that the sun's hit the earth

Lower angles --> energy is less intense --> spread over a greater surface

> Ice has a higher albedo = so it reflect back

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Global warming and sea ice

IPCC mainly concerned about Arctic

Concers due to: area and thickness

> Monitoring by satellites all year around

Positive feedback cycle:

1. Low area of Arctic sea ice --> higher albedo --> Arctic temperatures increase --> sea ice melts + less sea water freezes

1978-1996 = 2.9% of sea ice decreased per decade

April is begining of sumer = April 2015 lowest observations of sea ice recorded since observation began

Ice cover of 4 million km2 compared to original of 15 million km2 average (1981-2010)

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Global warming and sea ice


> Navies deploy submarines beneath ice in Arctic ocean - use satellites to find each other

1960s - Arctic sea ice 4m thick at centre

2018 - Arctic sea ice 1.25m thick at centre

Point of threshold - major decline of area of sea ice and the ice thinning threshold will be crossed

Arctic ice dramatically reduced --> solar radiation not reflected by absorbed --> warming Arctic Ocean = positive feedback cycle created

Observed current Arctic sea ice in extent and thickness = greater than predicted by models.

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Case study: Arctic Sea Ice

Impact of indigenous people

> 4 million people on coasts of Arctic Ocean

> Indigenous communities fish in Arctic Ocean - Inuit

Social impact - sustainable harvests affected by sea ice + weather patterns

Environmental impact - marine ecosystem decline =

Social impact - hunting becomes less reliable

Social impact - decline of indigneous communities

Social impact - reducing in food diversity and avalibility

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Case study: Arctic Sea Ice

Geo-political implications of sea ice changes

> Geographical positioning of the Arctic - USA and Russia confront over a short distance (superpowers)

> Interest of Canada and Europe in the Arctic

Conflict between powers over claims over areas of the Arctic ocean

Claims: Russia, Canada and Denmark

A country can claim sea bed up to 280km beyond its EEZ - rights to natural resources.

A country must prove that the sea bed is an extension of its continential shelf

Russia - claimed underwater mountain chain (Lomonsov Ridge) will be determined by UNCLOS

Militarisation of the Arctic is accerlating - all nations bordering have military infastructure

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Case study: Arctic Sea Ice

Impact of minerals in Arctic

> Incentive for countries is the mineral wealth held in the Arctic

90 billion barrels of oil

47 billion m3 of gas

Can only be accesses due to advances in technology

TNCs becoming interested in recovering the resources

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Case study: Arctic Sea Ice

Impact of Transport Routes in the Arctic


> Increased fuel consumption - more pollution


> Minerals that are exploited can be transported

2014 - first cargo ship was escolated through by an ice breaker

Northern Sea Route across Siberia is growing

> Shipping companies could reduce transportation costs

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Case study: Arctic Sea Ice

Managing the Arctic Ocean

> Arctic doesn't have treaties protecting it - so mineral and energy extraction can happen

Arctic Council, 1996 - governs the Arctic

Members of the Arctic Council - Canada, USA, Russia, Norway, Denmark, Sweden, Finland, Iceland. Indigenous people are represented

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Globalisation in shipping

Process of globalisation

> Movement of people short distances - ferries between UK and France

Freight dominates maritime transport

Globalisation = longer and bigger connections led to increasing interdependence between places and people

Total world trade has trebled = 45% of global GDP since 1950s

Oceans have lead to space-time compression = world is considered small as connections grow

> Technology has increased connectivity

> Development of ocean transport - increased speed and reliability of delivery

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Globalisation in shipping

Patterns of global shipping

East-west corridor =

>Links North America, Europe and Asia

> Through Suez Canal, Strait of Malacca and the Panama Canal

Factors influencing global shipping

> Physical geography - shape of coastline, winds, currents, water depth, sea ice

> (East-west routes) long detour around Cape Horn and Cape of Good Hope

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Globalisation in shipping

Suez and Panama Canal

Suez canal, 1869     Panama Canal, 1914

> Most significant maritime shortcuts

Suez canal - Red Sea to Mediterranean, 14 hours to sail, saves 8,900km, saves 10 days

Panama canal - Atlantic to Pacific, 17 hours to sail, saves 13,000km, saves 20 days

Both canals are being updated to accomodate more ships.

Physical geography of ports important: water depth, tidal range, sheltered.

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Globalisation in shipping

Direction and types of trade

Connection of producers to consumers

Type of trade is dependent on the market size for individual products

Indicators of market size

> Total population - more people purchasing products

> Income levels - affects ability to purchase products

> Types of good traded - influence volume and direction of trade

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Globalisation in shipping

Marine technology: transport

Containerisation - allows globalisation to occur.

> Reduces the cost of transportation 

> Reduces 'loose cargo' handling - reducing cost

Adds to the 'economies of scale' - lots of containers can be moved by one ship = reducing time to transport goods

> Loading and unloading is highly mechanised - own unique code = reducing time to transport 

Largest container = 440,000 tonnes oil, 400,000 tonnes iron ore

1960s - 130m containerships 

2014 - 400m containerships

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Globalisation in shipping

Importers and exporters

Largest exporter countries 

1st: EU - 38% of world trade

2nd: China - 17% of world trade

3rd: USA - 10% of world trade

Largest importer countries 

1st: EU - 33% of world trade 

2nd: USA - 14% of world trade 

3rd: China - 9% of world trade 

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Globalisation in shipping

Marine technology: transport

Cruise ships 

Largest = 225,000 tonnes, 360m, 6000 passengers

Transport people to different places = example of space-time compression

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Globalisation in shipping

Example of containerisation

Port of Singapore

20% of the world's containers handled 

130,000 ships docked 

33 million containers handled - evidence of the economies of scale

A conclusion could be: 

Much of globalisation is as a result of the internet - however, the revolution of transport is the driver of globalisation, as a result of space-time compression leading to the globa economy.

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Political influence of oceans

Use of oceans by countries

> 1950s - telephone cables labelled 

> More recently - fibre optic cables (allow internet access - secondary factor to globalisation)

> Submarine cables 

Oceans are used to exert naval power

> Rival countries have argued about the right of ships to sail freely across the oceans 

> Marine boundaries can be disputed - established by international law of EEZs

(There will be increasing tension in the Arctic as the regions warms and becomes more accessible)

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Political influence of oceans

China's growing naval power 

> Significant investment into their navies 

> Economically strengthing - growing GDP

> Economic strengh is increasing technological capabilities 

> Technology advances - navy can expand and modernise at a rapid rate

'Blue water navy - establishing naval bases in other countries so China's navy can operate in other areas' 

Blue water naval bases in: Dijbouti, Sri Lanka, Pakistan 

4 home naval ports: Dinghai, Sanya 

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Political influence of oceans

China's growing naval power

Blue water navy in the Indian Ocean for China is a concern for India 

China has a naval base in Pakistan 

Pakistan and India have bad relations 

However: the level of infastructure of these naval bases in not developed enough to support substanial Chinese miltary power 

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Political influence of oceans

Marine conflict: South China Sea 

Background information

> Conflict over 2 island chains - Paracels and Spratlys + Scarborough Shoal

> Countries conflicting: China, Vietnam, the Philippines, Taiwan, Malaysia and Brunei

China - claims because of the 'nine-dash line'

Taiwan and Beijing - old claims to the region 

Vietnam - claims over sovereignity. Use to the rule the two islands.

Philippines - geographically the closest to the island chains 

Malaysia + Brunei - in their Economic Exclusive Zone (have small islands near Spratlys)

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Political influence of oceans

Recent conflicts in the South China Sea

> 1974, 1988 - armed conflict between China and Vietnam 

> 2012 - China and Philippines accuse each other of invasion in Scarborough Shoal

> 2012 - China creates Sansha city in Paracels (Vietnam + Philippines protest)

> 2013 - Philippine challenges China's building of Sansha city under UNCLOS 

> 2014 - China set up drill rig near Paracels (collisions between Chinese and Vietnamese vessels)

> 2015 - US satelitte show China building infastructure on Spratlys.

US has significant interest - US$1.2 trillion to US economy. Allies with Tiawan 

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'Piracy - the act of boarding any vessel with intent to commit theft or any other crime, and with an intent or capacity to use force in furtherance of that act'

Rise in transcontinential shipping (globalisation) --> increase in piracy 

The geography of trading routes shows where piracy occurs most 

> Western Indian Ocean 

> Southeast Asia 

> Gulf of Quinea 

Indian Ocean - Gulf of Aden and Red sea leading to the Suez canak

Southeast Asia - the Malacca and Singapore straits 

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Piracy - attacks in Indian Ocean 

> Large vessls - containerships 

Seasonal pattern to piracy

Moonsoon season and summer months = little piracy = winds are strong = can't control small boats from which pirates opperate 

International action after increase in attacks 

Maritime coalition: EU, NATO, USA and other countries (Russia, India, China, Japan, SKorea)

These members patrol the most vulnerable areas = and attacks have decreased 

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Gulf of Guinea 

Miltary defence has increased in the Gulf of Guinea

Petro-piracy has increased 

Issues causing piracy 

> Poverty 

> Disfunctional government 

> Unemployment + lack of opportunities 

> Connects to organised crime networks - money laundering 

Loss of traditional fisheries - lost to industrial scale fishing 

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Oceans as escape routes

Routes for refugees 

Reason for migration - positives outway the negatives for the benefits at the destination.

Economic migrants - trying to achieve a higher standard of living 

Asylum seeker - escaping political or relgious persecution that present safety issues

Sea-borne refugees come from landlocked countries

UN Refugee Convention 

'Refugee - a person that has a well founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership to a social group or political opinion, is outside of the country of their nationality 

Also related to a person that is escaping natural disaster 

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Oceans as escape routes

Refugees in the Mediterranean and Asia

Migrants acrossing the Mediterranean from Africa to Europe - wealthy western European countries 

Strong historical links between countries = increased migration 

What are the motivations for movement 

> Continued political instability 

> Lack of raising living standards - allowing traffickers to exploit people

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Oceans as escape routes

Refugees in the Mediterranean and Asia

> Move from sub-saharan Africa and Middle East

> Increase in armed conflict - Syrian's fleeing civial war

> By the time they reach the Mediterranean they have already crossed the Sahara desert

Traffickers take advantage of desperate refugees

Often, lots of migrants die because of the poor conditios of the boats used

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Oceans as escape routes

Response to people trafficking

> International response (global governance)

1. United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR)

2. EU

Aim: to manage the flow of forced migrants

> Patrols in the Mediterranean - rescue refugees and resettle them

> Managing refugee camps (The Jungle) - stop this becoming a permanent home for displaced people

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